by Karen B. Moore
Thirty years ago, Animal House presented America with a look at college life that was enough to make parents homeschool their children through their Ph.Ds. Toga parties, beer runs, fraternity parties, acts of debauchery… that was then.
“I feel that, scary as it is, college life hasn't really changed that much,” said Leah Flynn, director of student activities.
“But then again” she added, “how does one define or make sense of what ‘college life’ should be? Is it all just about parties and fraternity parties? Or do we enjoy watching movies like this only because it pulls out the most extreme, and often disgusting, moments that we all have participated in or experienced at some point in college?”
As it is done in Hollywood, everything in “Animal House” is to the extreme, horses in the dean’s office, raging toga parties, road trips, and but behind every tall tale is there a grain of truth?
“I see students making the same mistakes and pulling the same pranks now as they did in this film,” Flynn said.
“Even with the alcohol awareness programs and alternative programming provided to deter students from throwing mannequins out the window and letting live horses into the dean's office, there are still students out there that set up their expectations of college life to be one big party and that's it,” Flynn said.
At ESF Insomniacs offer alternative alcohol-free programming on the weekends from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. but that doesn’t always stop everyone from drinking.
“The consumption and abuse of alcohol on college campuses is no laughing matter,” Flynn said. “Nationally there are a number of student deaths and injuries related to the over-consumption of alcohol. Not to mention the amount of sexual assaults and date rapes that occur because either party involved had too much to drink that night.”
Most students do well at balancing their academics and social lives, but some, like the members of Delta Tau Chi with their 0.0 GPAs, don’t.
“It's those that don't (find balance) that really cause us (student affairs administrators) concern,” said Flynn.
ESF has a number of services in place to help students find the balance and succeed including Evolutions and the Academic Success Center (ASC). Evolutions links first-year students with returning ESFers who serve as mentors throughout the year. The mentors provide tips and advice for personal and academic success and help acclimate the freshman to ESF life. ACS provides students support to reach their academic goals with services such as peer tutoring, and writing and math support.
“Although this movie is funny, and some of the stunts they pulled and the parties they went to is something that we may have all done at one point in time, it is still just a movie,” she said.
“Overall, I think that in 30 years, things pretty much stay the same when it comes to college life. Those who are coming to college are experiencing a newer sense of "independence;" maybe even see college as a "clean slate" where they can start over,” said Flynn. “Students at college are away from figures of authority, and often times feel that the way to express their new found freedom is by throwing raucous parties on fraternity row, starting food fights in the dining hall and all at the same time trying to figure out who they are.”